Local flavor

Enjoying Cao Lau in Hoi An

After hundreds of years, cao lau has become a must-try dish for tourists visiting Hoi An.

 The people in Hoi An have a saying “Anyone visiting Hoi An should stop at Phuc Kien assembly hall to try cao lau". The saying means cao lau is a signature dish of Hoi An, so anyone who visits the ancient town should try at least once.

A bowl of cao lau costs around 30,000 - 35,000dong(approximately 1.5 US dollars), but it contains the dedication of the people. This delicious dish is made from rice noodles, slices of barbecued pork, bean sprouts, lettuce, and aromatic herbs, which are then topped with crispy fried pigskin and dried noodles and finished with a spoonful of broth. The combination creates a sweet and fragrant taste that is truly irresistible.

According to the locals, cao lau has been around since the 17th century when ships from Western and Eastern countries, including Japan and China, came to trade at the bustling Hoi An port. Some people believe that cao lau originated from China because of the use of char siu pork, while others think it came from Japan due to the similarity of its noodles to udon noodles. However, neither explanation seems to be accurate since neither country has a dish that resembles Hoi An's cao lau. Perhaps, it is a unique dish created solely by the people of Hoi An, combining various culinary influences from different cultures, including China and Japan.


The mixed noodle dish used to be served only to the upper classes, and its name literally translates as “high floor” where the rich would sit in restaurants in the olden days. Now everyone can enjoy it, and you can find it all over the city. 

 

Cao lau is a signature dish of Hoi An. Photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP
A shop selling cao lau in Hoi An. Photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP
Visitors enjoy the popular cao lau in Hoi An. Photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP
Cao lau is favored by locals and visitors in Hoi An. Photo: Thanh Hoa/VNP

By Thanh Hoa/VNP          Translated by Nguyen Tuoi

Thực hiện: Thanh Hòa/Báo ảnh Việt Nam

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